Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills (-2.5, 42.5 o/u)
One of the last open QB battles in the NFL belongs to the Buffalo Bills. This Saturday, Rex Ryan will get another chance to assess his options as the Bills host the Pittsburgh Steelers at Ralph Wilson Stadium (4:00 PM Eastern).
For Buffalo, the competition to start Week 1 against Indianapolis looks like a two-horse race between former Baltimore back-up Tyrod Taylor, and onetime Patriot Matt Cassell. Taylor looks to have the edge at the moment after going 7 of 10 for 65 yards last week against the Browns. Last year’s opening-day starter EJ Manuel, who is widely considered to be third on the depth-chart, also looked decent against Cleveland, throwing for 111 yards and one major while completing 9 of 14 passes. (The veteran Cassel didn’t see any action in that game, but is the probable starter for Saturday’s game.)
All in all, Ryan was pleased with what he saw from his potential pivots. “This was the scenario I wanted,” said the coach. “I wanted a scenario where all three guys performed at a high level and I think we have [had that]. When you look at the games … I think all three guys have performed at a really high level, and so that’s what exactly I was wanting. If I was a betting man going in to it would I have said that? I’m not sure. But I’m glad it’s working out the way it is.”
The Steelers, meanwhile, are settled at QB with Ben Roethlisberger firmly entrenched as the starter. But the team recently signed Michael Vick to shore up the position. The divisive quarterback figures to see his first action with the team this Saturday as he learns and adjusts to a new offensive scheme.
While many criticised Pittsburgh for signing Vick, who ran afoul of the law in years past by engaging in dog fighting, head coach Mike Tomlin considers him a welcome addition.
“As a professional, obviously I’ve got a great deal of respect for him, what he’s capable of,” said Tomlin to Pittsburgh Action News. “I spent a lot of time in the NFC South against him when I was a secondary coach with the Bucs and he was the quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons, and a lot of sleepless nights, obviously, in preparation for those matchups.”
With Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh’s dynamic first-team offense in the game for the first half – and Vick waiting in the wings to prove he can still be a viable NFL backup – expect the Steelers to cover.
Pick: Steelers +2.5.
(Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)